Bush on Energy: U.S. Can Have Its Oil and Heat It Too

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Focusing on supply rather than demand, production rather than consumption, and above all oil, oil, oil, George W. Bush was in in Saginaw, Mich. (where folks certainly know something about cold winters and heating oil), on Friday to unveil his energy policy in an address. The theme: Want cheaper oil? Elect an oilman.

The short version: Increase domestic production of oil and other fuels and reduce dependence on foreign sources. The cost: $7.1 billion over 10 years. The selling point: If Clinton and Gore knew the business and had planned ahead, we wouldn't be in this mess.

"They have had every chance to avoid the situation that confronts us today,'' Bush said. "And now they have nothing but excuses, bad ideas and — as the clock runs out — one last ploy: opening the strategic reserve.''

Bush wants to sweat the Arabs — his last name and Cheney's connections are supposed to make this easier than it was for Bill Richardson. He wants to lift regulations on the construction of U.S. oil refineries, which he says are clogging the supply line, and create a privately managed Northeast Home Heating Oil Reserve in case refineries, as they are now, aren't up to the job of supply. He'll promote an energy alliance with Mexico and Canada, energy resources in non-OPEC regions, and establishing a meeting of G-8 energy ministers to encourage independence from OPEC.

And he wants to open 1.5 million acres of the 19-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to "environmentally responsible, regulated exploration," which is where the energy issue crosses over to Gore's home turf: the environment.

"The vice president says he would rather protect this refuge than gain the energy," Bush said. "But this is a false choice. We can do both — taking out energy, and leaving only footprints. Critics of increased exploration and production ignore the remarkable technological advances in the last 10 years that have dramatically decreased the environmental impact of oil and gas exploration." In other words, Bush never had the Sierra Club vote anyway. But he might still make a Big Oil energy policy palatable; this is a nation that has always preferred cheap gas to clean air anyway.

On that note, Bush is also including some money for alternative-fuel-source tax credits to inoculate him against the charges of environmental unfriendliness that are sure to be leveled in Tuesday's debate. He's even starting to sound like Gore, saying his tax credits "will include extensions of the wind power credit and closed loop biomass credit, and also include an open loop biomass credit and a 15 percent credit for residential solar power facilities, capped at $2,000."

What, nothing about chlorofluorocarbons?